Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Planning to or receiving Social Security or VA Benefits? Get this done now!

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Apr 27, 2020


documents with elderly parents

Many of you are receiving or will be receiving Social Security or VA benefits. We find that most of the people we help with estate planning and life care planning do not have a Durable Power of Attorney. Let us explain why this is the MOST IMPORTANT to complete now and how it relates to these SSA and Veteran’s Benefits as well.

Your Durable Power of Attorney will allow someone of your choosing to make decisions for you if necessary. There are often a number of critical decisions to be made if and when you are not able to speak for yourself including health, financial and personal. During this pandemic, when family members are not being allowed into hospitals along side their loved ones, it is more important than ever to be prepared. Even if your spouse of child is in touch with doctors and nurses, you need to empower them with this document.

However, there are a few times when even this document will not suffice; Social Security Administration and Veteran’s Affairs. Even if you designate an agent under a power of attorney, a trustee under a trust, or a guardian of your estate, they do not have legal authority to manage federal benefits checks.

Both of these offices require their own designation: Social Security Administration requires a Representative Payee and Veteran Affairs requires a VA Fiduciary.

These designations allow you to choose one or more people to make decisions, move accounts and get answers on your behalf. This is done by contacting the agency directly and make an advance designation. This law was passed in 2018, yet many of our clients come to meet with us not knowing this important information.

This can be done via the SSA website, or by phone (800-772-1213) or in person at a local office. Of course, during this pandemic, SSA offices are closed. To update your VA Fiduciary, contact your local VA Affairs office by clicking here..

Attend an upcoming Discovery Workshop!

(given online during Covid-19 pandemic)

Learn about our Unique Process to help you and your family enhance the security of your lifestyle, legacy and life savings

Next Live Online Workshop: 

Thursday April 30 @ 10am and 2pm

To register CLICK HERE or call 781-237-2815.


Tags: durable power of attorney, social security, VA benefits, living trusts, Elder Law Attorney, Estate Planning Attorney, covid-19, Heath Care Documents

How Can the CARES Act Can Help You and Your Family?

Posted by The Estate Planning & Asset Protection Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Apr 16, 2020


As you know, the U.S. Congress recently passed the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This law, which provides wide-ranging financial and regulatory relief related to the ongoing Covid-19 public health crisis, represents a response of unprecedented scope and scale. Below we have given a summary of highlights that may be relevant to you and your family. We hope this helps clarify how you can receive assistance during this pandemic.

  1. Direct payments to individuals and families – Individuals receive up to $1200 and married couples receive $2400 if you file a joint income tax return. Families with children receive an additional $500 for each qualifying child.  You qualify for the full payment if your adjusted gross income as shown on your 2019 tax return (or 2018 return if you haven’t filed 2019 yet) is $75,000 or less ($150,000 if married filing jointly).  You can qualify for a smaller amount if your AGI exceeds $75,000 but you get nothing when you reach $99,000 annually and $198,000 if married filing jointly.
  2. Deferring mortgage payments and renter protection – If you have a federally backed mortgage you can write to your lender to ask for a 6 month deferment on making your payments (you may also request an additional 6 month extension as you approach your first 6 month deadline).  There are no penalties allowed by your lender when deferring this loan. It is simply added to the end of your mortgage term. The Act also provides for a 120 day moratorium for eviction proceedings if you are a tenant in a federally subsidized housing unit or a dwelling covered by a federally backed mortgage loan.
  3. For Americans age 59 ½ and younger who have directly been affected by the coronavirus and are experiencing financial hardship, the CARES Act waives the 10-percent penalty for withdrawing funds from IRAs and defined benefit contribution plans, like 401(k) plans. Taxes must still be paid on these withdrawals, however, they may be paid evenly over the next three years. Contact your plan provider to verify that your plan has been updated to allow these revisions before you withdraw to prevent future headaches.
  4. You can also now borrow up to $100,000 from a 401k if you take the loan no later than 9/22/20 but there are tax ramifications if you then are unable to pay the loan back before you leave your employer or lose your job.
  5. The need to take required minimum distributions (RMD) is waived for 2020.  This may be helpful to retirees who don’t need the money which is just accumulating in a non-retirement account.  However, for those needing the money to pay bills, this will not be helpful since you are still required to pay taxes on the withdrawals.
  6. Payments on federal student loans have been suspended through 9/30/2020.  This is helpful for parents and grandparents who are making payments on student loans for a child or grandchild. The Department of Education automatically will enact the temporary suspension on federal student loans that are owned directly by the Federal Government for the six-month reprieve so there is no need to shut off any automatic debits. Be wary of scams that ask for payments to start the suspension. Borrowers who are able to continue making payments on the principal during the six-month pause will whittle down the balance that much faster. Those wishing to continue any automatic debit they have set up or who have any questions about how this affects their loans should contact their servicer.

Please take care to be extra cautious about fishy scams that prey on seniors with investment schemes. Listen to trusted financial advisers and check with loved ones if it sounds too good to be true. As always we are here to help you and your family plan for the future and get through this difficult time in our country.


To Register for our upcoming Webinar: Click HERE or Call 1-800-964-4295

Did you know 86% of life, health & estate plans fail? Are you protected?

Online Workshops:       April 16 @ 10am & 2pm

                                        April 18 @ 9:30am

                                        April 30 @ 10am & 2pm


Tags: living trusts, Elder Law Attorney, Estate Planning Attorney, CARES Act, Stimulus, Mortgage deferment

Due to the Pandemic, Should I Move My Parent/Grandparent?

Posted by The Estate Planning & Asset Protection Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Apr 07, 2020

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In this difficult time, with the risk to the older population on everyone’s mind, we have been receiving many calls asking us what the best way to protect their loved ones. Should people consider moving their family members to a facility or perhaps move them from a facility into their own home. The answer to this question varies of course as each family’s situations vary. As we approach what medical experts predict will be the apex in the number of new cases, we wanted to go over some items to consider as you contemplate what works best for your family.

If you are considering moving your loved one into your home. The most important detail to consider is whether or not the entire family is able to stay socially distanced. If, however, a family member is part of an “essential business” and continues to be out in public, interacting with others, this could increase the risk of becoming infected. This point is especially a risk if the family member is working in the medical field and therefore coming into contact with infected patients daily. It is also a higher risk if the worker is among the public, working in a supermarket for example. Another question to consider when deciding to move a loved one into your home would be whether or not you have an appropriate area in your home where you could isolate an infected family member if the need arises. This can be challenging when, for example, shared spaces are necessary such as a bathroom that must be sanitized continuously throughout the day.

Another question that comes up is whether or not to move your loved one from one facility to another if you find out their current facility has a known case of Covid-19 on site. This may not be wise, as the virus continues to spread rapidly and puts each facility at risk, so circumstances might change. It is also a difficult time to get thorough information about a potential new facility given that most are currently unwilling to allow outsiders in, which precludes you from touring and meeting with staff and assessing the care your loved one would receive.

What about the type of care your loved one needs? If moving home, would you need to hire an outside aid to assist in their care? This would require yet another person from the outside coming into your home regularly. These outside health aids are another group of front-line workers who are coming into contact with people from various households during their workday. This not only is an added risk to your loved one, but a risk to the entire family as well. Also, keep in mind that the original facility may have policies and concerns about allowing your loved one back into their location once they have been exposed to others, and it may be a complicated process to receive permission to allow your loved on back in.

Financial concerns are also a consideration. If you have the funds to pay for care that’s beneficial. However, if not, the complicated process of applying for Medicaid and awaiting that decision could be impacted if you decide to move your loved one even temporarily. It’s possible your loved one could lose their spot, and these issues would need to be discussed directly with the facility.

We understand these are very difficult times, and very important decisions. As always, our team is here to talk with you and guide you through this. Please reach out, we are here to help protect you and your family.

  • The Estate Planning & Asset Protection Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates


To Register for our upcoming Webinar: Click HERE or Call 1-800-964-4295

Did you know 86% of life, health & estate plans fail? Are you protected?

Online Workshops:       April 16 @ 10am & 2pm

                                        April 18 @ 9:30am


Tags: power of attorney, lawyer, revocable living trust, applying for medicare, healthcare proxy, living trusts, Estate Planning Attorney, covid-19

Does My Living Trust and Estate Plan Need to be Fixed?

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Feb 06, 2020

Final Sullivan Newsletter Prospects 1-20202

From the Files of the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates
A couple from the  Metro West, concerned about all the tax and health care changes taking place in 2020, put together the following list for us to review: Safeguards for incapacity; Protection for children’s inheritance from creditors and/or divorce; New tax provisions for married couples resulting in completely avoidable taxes; and Unprotected IRA’s & retirement accounts.
Our clients do not have to question if their Estate & Asset Protection Plan is viable, they know it is! Our clients have peace of mind knowing we continually monitor their plans throughout the years to identify when updates are needed. Our unique “19 Point Trust Estate and Asset Protection Review” allows us to identify and monitor these updates. Everyone with a home, life savings, a cause they care about, and/or people they want to protect, love our exclusive “Lifetime Protection Program”. Our Law Center has over 42 years of experience both as Estate and Asset Protection Attorneys and also as Certified Public Accountants. We have been providing the “Lifetime Protection Program” for many clients for more than a decade since inception. This program gives continual guidance and protection for families, spouses, children and grandchildren for generations.
The Estate Planning and Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates is a proud member of The Wealth Counsel, Elder Counsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Massachusetts Society of CPAs, and we have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. We possess the knowledge, tools, contacts, and expertise to grant you peace of mind for a lifetime.
Retirement Benefit Income tax acceleration with recent law changes. Our federal estate tax applicable exclusion is at $11.58 million up from $11.4 million in 2019. In Massachusetts we have plenty of couples paying estate tax on every dollar over $1 million resulting in excess avoidable taxes on children, grandchildren and those you care about. It comes down to this question. Would you rather leave a legacy of excess avoidable taxes, OR contribute to the well-being of your spouse, children and causes you hold dearest?
ATTENTION: If Your Living Trust is 3+ Years old it May be Outdated!
Contact us about a personalized complimentary discovery review session (normally $750)
To schedule your family’s Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review Call 800-964-4295 or visit to register online.
Question: How do you take control of the situation and protect a lifetime of hard work and savings for you and your family?
-Register online or call to attend a live workshop and discover how your plan stacks up. You will even obtain guidance to get you and your family on track now and remain protected in the years ahead!
-Request a copy of our proprietary “19 Point Trust Estate and Asset Protection Guide” along with a companion DVD. We have developed a unique education and counseling process that helps families now and for generations to follow.
Call 800-964- 4295 (24/7) or visit now to protect your home, spouse, family and life savings.

Tags: 2020, living trusts

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